Mount Sinai Health System Joins Biden Administration Pledge to Decarbonize Health Care Sector, Make Facilities Resilient to Climate Change

Mount Sinai Health System was celebrated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) on Thursday, November 10, for pledging ongoing action to decarbonize the health care sector and make health care facilities more resilient to the effects of climate change. Mount Sinai has formally committed to pursuing the Biden administration’s climate goal of reducing emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and has already made large-scale efforts to decarbonize.

A September 2021 consensus statement from more than 200 medical journals named climate change the No. 1 threat to global public health. It exposes millions of people in the United States, and countless more around the world, to harm every year through increases in extreme heat waves, wildfires, flooding, vector-borne diseases, and other factors that worsen chronic health conditions. These impacts disproportionately fall on communities that are often already the victims of longstanding discrimination. The health care sector also contributes to climate change, accounting for approximately 8.5 percent of U.S. domestic emissions.

The HHS Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, developed the White House/HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge to help focus industry response to climate challenges. In addition to reducing their carbon footprint, signatories also commit to producing detailed plans to prepare their facilities for both chronic and acute catastrophic climate impacts.

One hundred two prominent health companies in the United States have signed the White House/HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge, including organizations representing 837 hospitals as well as leading health centers, suppliers, insurance companies, group purchasing organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and more. Federal systems like the Indian Health Service, Veterans Health Administration, and Military Health System are working together to meet similar goals to those embraced by these private-sector organizations. Combined, this means that more than 1,080 federal and private sector hospitals have made such commitments, together representing more than 15 percent of U.S. hospitals. 

“HHS returns this year to COP27 to report great progress,” said Admiral Rachel Levine, the Assistant Secretary for Health. “Through the efforts of the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity and several other HHS agencies, we have made significant strides in introducing resources and supports to help communities and care providers accelerate their work to reduce harmful emissions and increase climate resilience in the health sector.”

Mount Sinai has already reduced its energy-related carbon footprint by more than 30 percent since 2005. Key to these efforts were chiller and heating plant optimization projects at The Mount Sinai Hospital, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Mount Sinai West. Additional investments in electric cooling and heating technology are underway at Mount Sinai’s new laboratories and health care facilities throughout New York City to further reduce the Health System’s reliance on fossil fuels.

“Mount Sinai is excited to join with other leaders in the health sector to expand on the progress we have already made. We understand the impacts that climate change has on the health of the communities we serve. Thus, we are committed to reducing our impact on the environment while also ensuring that we are resilient to the impacts of climate change,” said Christina McNeilis, MPH, Associate Director of Sustainability at Mount Sinai Health System.

Additionally, Mount Sinai is working with its suppliers to better understand and decarbonize its supply chain-related emissions. Earlier this year, Mount Sinai signed on to The Cool Food Pledge, a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food purchases by 25 percent by 2030.

For more information about how Mount Sinai is responding to our nation’s climate challenges, visit www.Mountsinai.org.

About the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity

The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE) plays a vital role in protecting the nation’s health from climate change-related risks, including extreme heat, natural disasters, vector-borne diseases and more. Among the supports OCCHE provides for health sector companies that wish to reduce their environmental impact and become more resilient to the effects of climate change are a webinar series and associated compendium of federal resources to support emissions reduction and resilience. OCCHE also publishes a regular Climate and Health Outlook, an effort to inform health professionals and the public on how our health may be affected in the coming month(s) by climate events and provide resources to take proactive action.

About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, over 400 outpatient practices, nearly 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time — discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. We are consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report‘s Best Hospitals, receiving high “Honor Roll” status, and are highly ranked: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital among the country’s best in several pediatric specialties. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: It is consistently ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report‘s “Best Medical Schools,” aligned with a U.S. News & World Report “Honor Roll” Hospital, and top 20 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding and top 5 in the nation for numerous basic and clinical research areas. Newsweek’s “World’s Best Smart Hospitals” ranks The Mount Sinai Hospital as No. 1 in New York City and in the top five globally, and Mount Sinai Morningside in the top 30 globally; Newsweek also ranks The Mount Sinai Hospital highly in 11 specialties in “World’s Best Specialized Hospitals,” and in “America’s Best Physical Rehabilitation Centers.”  For more information, visit https://www.mountsinai.org or find Mount Sinai on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.